You better be sure to buckle up, because you’re about to go on an exploratory adventure in electric guitar. Here to take you on your journey is Hunters Chorus, and their brand new song “Lion Killer” off of their sophomore full-length The Boy Ain’t Right. Led by the visionary talent of guitarist and composer Ramon Fermin, the song plays like something you’d hear in the emotional conclusion to a medieval fantasy film.
There’s a symphonic feel to “Lion Killer,” primarily supplied by Fermin himself, redefining what is possible when it comes to the guitar. That folkloric, mythical feel is evident throughout The Boy Ain’t Right’s seven tracks, an evocative collection of imaginative compositions that couldn’t be any more well-composed. Recorded at the Atomic Garden Recording Studio in Oakland, California, the band again worked with Jack Shirley, a frequent collaborator who also mixed and mastered the record.
Commenting on the song, Fermin said, “I had sketched out the main thematic material of this one a few months before going into the studio. It started with a somber chord progression, out of which the melodic material grew. While making a demo of the tune for the band, we decided to give the main verse melody to the viola, which Elyse (Ader) recorded beautifully. The lead electric guitar part that happens during the bridge of the song was the last part that materialized. I was trying to learn drums at the time, and I think the part was basically built on a triplet motive lifted from some of the the rudimental snare drum literature I was working through, applied to simple cross-stringed triad shapes on the guitar.
I took this figure through the harmonic progression of the bridge, throwing in some voicing changes, chromatic passing tones and blues licks here and there to break the pattern. Sonically, I wanted the bridge section of the song to maintain a quality of softness, even though the overall dynamic grows in intensity, so I chose to record the bulk of the lead line fingerstyle on my Les Paul, with a heavily saturated sound dialed in, and with the tone knob rolled all the way down.”
The Boy Ain’t Right is the follow up to Hunters Chorus’ 2018 debut full-length Old Growler. In between, they released the wonderful single “Arrows Over Broadway” in 2020. Fermin has surrounded himself with a talented lineup of friends and collaborators for this new record, including his wife Elyse Ader on viola, childhood friend Pat Murphy on bass, and a trio of superbly talented musicians in violinist Hilary Lewis, pianist Ben Boye, and drummer Jason Slota. To capture that live and in-person atmosphere that the band’s music conjures up, Fermin decided to use recordings that are from the floor live takes, that feature engaging studio ambience.
All put together, Fermin has surrounded himself with a big-league group of performers to form one of the most interesting and captivating instrumental acts you’ve heard in a long time.